meditation: william stafford

This time last year found me writing about meditation in a blog post for the Cincinnati Review, about its place in both the writing and personal life. It’s one of those concepts and practices that gets lost under human error and flash, much like good poems often get lost in the error and flash of revision. Yet meditation’s troubled calm is worth reckoning with for whatever glimpse of clarity it might bring to your life; in this way, too, meditation is linked to the reading and writing of poetry.

oregon-51014_960_720One poet who I feel lived and reckoned with this troubled calm is William Stafford. In “Meditation,” Stafford adds his own take on the concept. This short lyric reveals and hides itself like a coin flipped in the air. Both an admission of defeat and of hope, it dwells right where one waits for things like memory, poems, and clarity.

Meditation – William Stafford

If I could remember all at once — but I have forgotten.
But some day, looking along a furrowed cliff, staring
Beyond the eyes’ strength, I’ll start the avalanche,
And every stone will fall separate and revealed.


Read more about William Stafford here.

new microreview & interview at the CR blog!

5759df779b8f9Just a quick post to share my latest and last microreview & interview for the Cincinnati Review blog!

This time around I spend time with Jennifer Givhan’s Landscape With Headless Mama (Pleiades Press).

I’ve had a blast writing for the CR blog and plan to continue the microreview & interviews here on the Influence (check out the Submissions tab for more details).

See you Friday!


new prose poems & #poetsofinstagram news!

Just a quick post to announce the release of the latest issue of Pretty Owl Poetry which features three prose poems of mine from a new project. This issue includes stellar work from Ellen McGrath Smith, Chelsea Tadeyeske, and Trish Hopkinson among other great contributions.

Special thanks to Kelly Lorraine Andrews, Gordan Buchan, and everyone at POP for including me in such a great issue!

Check out the issue here.


Also: The latest and last interview in my #poetsofinstagram series is up now at the Cincinnati Review blog! This time around John Carroll of @makeblackoutpoetry talks about his history with blackout poetry and the hope it inspires in him and others.

I had a lot of fun with these interviews and am considering continuing them on this blog. Stay tuned!


See you Friday!


new #poetsofinstagram interview!

Just a quick post to share my latest interview in my #poetsofinstagram series over at the Cincinnati Review blog! Read it here.

This time around @colette.lh shares some of her stunning work as well as insights into what motivates and inspires her writing.

Be sure to check out my own @poetryamano account, a poetry project focused on poems made by hand. I’ve been working a lot with erasures recently!

See you Friday!


storying with rochelle hurt

RUNAWAYIn my recent microreview & interview of Rochelle Hurt’s In Which I Play the Runaway , I discussed how the idea of “narrative inheritance” is central to the collection, working as a background to be subverted and challenged via the themes of the physical body and the conceptual runaway. What this means is that the collection is concerned with the stories we accept about ourselves and how those stories change, either on their own or through our effort.

In “Poem In Which I Play the Cheat” below, the speaker begins their story as something they “could explain.” Through the modal verb “could,” the speaker places their story in an imaginative space, suspending the scene of “when he touched my arm” and the image of “a stunned doe” as part of only one instance of the experience.

The speaker then charges back into the material of their story, back to “Sun as first love.” In the third stanza’s depiction of being younger and in love with the sun,”its heat, so much / like a body, a welcome weight,” the speaker establishes distance from scene with the “he” of the first stanza. This distance is where the story begins to change, the speaker now less in love with a person and more in love with an experience.

When the final stanza changes the first stanza’s phrasing of “when he touched my arm” to “when I touched his arm,” a subtle, but significant shift happens. Where the first stanza has an outside action create an interior response, the last stanza grounds itself in inner sensation. Rather than having a story of action and response, the last stanza has a story of response only, a lingering and holding onto sensation that leaves the speaker “wanting until a kind of night” falls within them. Suddenly, the role of “cheat” and its connotations of evasiveness serve a more complicated and honest purpose: that of unflinching witness to the self.


Poem in Which I Play the Cheat – Rochelle Hurt

I could explain
that when he touched my arm, a field opened
inside me, so I lay down there like a stunned doe
wedding herself to the ground for its green.

But you should understand it began before that —

Sun as first love: when I was small,
I would close my eyes each afternoon
and press myself into its heat, so much
like a body, a welcome weight on top of me.
Its light split my skin, and I opened
to the infinite red and shine beneath my lids
as time thickened and pleasure oozed
like syrup into the bowl of my skull.

What I mean is that I fall in love with surfaces —

When I touched his arm, the horizon flickered
before us, and I knew the sky was only
a scratched film of sky. I fixed on its sun nonetheless,
wanting until a kind of night fell in my chest.


Happy storying!


new CR blog microreview & interview!

RUNAWAYJust a quick post to share my latest microreview & interview up now at the Cincinnati Review blog!

This time around I focus on Rochelle Hurt’s second collection, In Which I Play the Runaway (Barrow Street Press).

I’ll be sharing a poem from this collection on Friday. Stay tuned!

For now, enjoy the review.

See you Friday!


new interview series for the CR blog!

Just a quick post to share my new interview series for the Cincinnati Review blog focused on #poetsofinstagram!

The interviews in this series will range from poets who work with erasure/blackout poetry and found poems, to poets who combine their own artwork with their text. These interviews will focus on the writing itself as well as the sense of community to be found among poets on social media.

Check out the first interview with @nomadic_words and stay tuned for more in the coming weeks!

See you Friday!


new CR blog post & instagram project!

osowskiHappy to share my latest post for the Cincinnati Review blog, a microreview & interview of Leah Poole Osowski’s Hover Over Her!

In this microreview, I discuss Osowski’s work via “the poetics of suddenness.”


Also, I wanted to share a new Instagram poetry project I’ve started entitled poetryamano (poetry by hand). This account will focus on sharing poems written by hand.

I’m excited to see what new directions this takes my writing and what it opens up in terms of form. The latest posts will appear here on the sidebar of this site, but the full account can be accessed here.

Be sure to check out my other account as well – which is more in line with the spirit of this blog and my life. Both accounts are without a doubt centered around poemtrees 🙂

I hope you and yours are well during these trying times.

See you Friday!


new poems up at Gris-Gris & new CR post!

Just a quick post to announce the release of the latest issue of Gris-Gris, which includes my poems “The Ladder” and “Clock Affirmations.”

“The Ladder” is dedicated to my friend Christine Maloy whose passing is also commemorated in my second chapbook, Corpus Christi Octaves.

This issue also includes work by Alejandro Escudé, Kristen Jackson, and Stanley Rubin among other stellar work. Read the issue here.


Also, here’s the link to my latest What’s Poetry Got to Do With It? column published on the Cinncinati Review blog.

This time around I go into a few of the connections that I see between poetry and meditation. Here’s a brief excerpt from the conclusion:

Attention, which in meditation talk is often termed mindfulness or awareness, is invaluable to poetry. By having us pay attention to words, poems open ways for us to pay attention to the world.

Read the rest here.

See you Friday!